Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Composer's Datebook

I tend to let the Composers Datebook podcasts pile up for a while on my iPod (each one is only a couple of minutes long), and then I listen to a bunch of them. I always learn something.

The composers presented on Composers Datebook are all excellent composers, but listening to the podcasts end to end can be terribly intimidating, particularly when the American Composers Forum discusses current successful composers (and there are some that seem to come up repeatedly). I know that I lack many of the commerce- and commodity-related skills a person has to have in order to be a successful composer, and for most of my writing "career" I have measured success in terms of how pieces I write sound, and if they are vehicles for people to express themselves. I'm not good at selling myself (even if I try), and am not very good at doing the kind of networking that is necessary to get pieces performed. I could even say that I believe that one of my strong points is not to be intimidating. But that means, in this dog-eat-dog world, that I am a good candidate to be on the receiving end of intimidation: to be intimidated.

Perhaps it doesn't matter. Perhaps that podcast is geared more for consumers of music (i.e. people who don't write music themselves) than it is to composers.

Intimidation is different from inspiration. For me nothing inhibits creativity like intimidation.


Lisa Hirsch said...

You seem comfortable with your own choice not to do much self-promotion and comfortable with your niche as composer, teacher, performer. So I'm curious what you find intimidating about the podcasts. It's not as though the podcast creators and the composers in the podcasts are holding you to some arbitrary standard.

Elaine Fine said...

I'm not exactly sure, Lisa! Perhaps it is just the huge number of composers and enormous amount of music involved. Perhaps it is healthier for a person like me to take in music the long way rather in two-minute chunks.

Sean said...

It's bad enough that in order to advance a composition career, *you* have to talk about yourself to a lot of *other* people, so that you and your work can become better-known. But then, if things progress to the point where *other* people are doing the talking about *you*, the things they end up saying are most often incorrect, or at the very least, inaccurate.

Sometimes I wish music could be a lifelong moment of silence.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Sean, you could take out "composition" and what you say would be generally true. In any career, if you want to advance, you wind up talking about yourself, your ideas, what you want to do, and so on.

Elaine Fine said...

Ain't it the truth!

When I was young I used to believe what people said about themselves, and I used to be impressed by people who tooted their horns loudly and in any sort of company. Then I came up with a little maxim: "Play it, don't say it." Now I only believe the people who show me "proof in the pudding," and perhaps because of that my social life is pretty limited.

Anonymous said...

"Play it, don't say it."

A fine saying. I share this with you. For all the complainers, the best advice is go compose something else. If Bach had to be rehabilitated by Mendelssohn and Mahler by Bernstein, even the greats lie fallow awhile as styles and times change. We might be composing the next "great" item which will be (re-)discovered a century from now. Go write something, then compose something else. It beats complaining.